Friday, February 07, 2014

From a PIU Teacher

Jim and Kay-snowI received the following in an email from my friend Dr. Jim Sawyer. Jim is a visiting faculty member at PIU who has been coming out for a couple weeks every semester for the last five years to teach in our Systematic Theology and Church History Departments. Joyce and I have had a lot of opportunity to get to know Jim, and his wife Kay, as they have stayed at our house each time they come here. We also stayed a night at their place in the Bay Area on our last Mainland vacation. A couple weeks ago Jim came out to teach Church History Overview for our seminary. The quotes below are from his emailed prayer letter about that trip. As you pray for PIU please keep Jim and Kay in your prayers as Jim travels all over the world to teach theology. If you want to know more about the Sawyers’ ministry you can go to his web site at  (The picture of Jim and Kay here was not taken on Guam.)

As I stepped on campus at Pacific Islands University three weeks ago I met Ken Dixon, a Wycliffe Bible Translator who has labored for many years in West Papua (the Indonesian side of New Guinea). “You have a student from the highlands of West Papua registered for your class. He is supposed to be arriving today.”

The highlands of New Guinea contain hundreds of tribes, some small with only a few hundred, some numbering over a hundred thousand. Just a generation ago, when I was a young child, missionaries first entered this area of fierce tribes and forbidding jungle terrain. In the book The Peace Child Don Richardson told his story of being the first white man to contact the Sawi tribe, a Stone Age tribe of head hunters during the 1960’s. A decade earlier the Dani tribe, also cannibals were evangelized by missionaries and en masse turned to Christ. Since that time many more tribes have been evangelized. Now some from these tribes are being educated through college level!

After some confusion my student Harolx (I never did learn to pronounce his name properly—it is nearly impossible for westerners to pronounce—In English he calls himself Harol—Harold without the “d” on the end) arrived on campus a day later than expected and just hours before our first class meeting, tired and a bit overwhelmed.

I soon learned that even in the highlands of West Papua there are many pressures on the young church, pressures from the Government, pressures from foreign anthropologists who are encouraging the tribes to return to their ancestral gods, and the same types of denominational and church politics that we face here in the US.

Although only in his twenties Harolox is burdened beyond his years for the condition of his people. These concerns have led him to Seminary at PIES (Pacific Islands Evangelical Seminary). Here he looks forward to receiving the training in Bible, Theology, Church History and ministry skills that will prepare him to be a leader of the Church in his tribe in West Papua.

Indications are that Harolx is just the first of many tribal people that are looking for serious ministry training. PIES is strategically located to reach these far “corners” of the earth with opportunities for training in God’s Word and leadership to help them in reaching and teaching their fellow tribesmen. As one who grew up on the accounts of missionaries being martyred by jungle tribesmen, to be involved in actually preparing these young men (and women) for ministry is more than a privilege, for which I am incredibly grateful.

I ask for your continued prayers and support for Harolx, and for myself and the rest of the faculty who are involved in this vital ministry training.



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